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Re: Two questions on the dino-fleas

Jonas Weselake-George <ee555@ncf.ca> wrote:

> A large and highly pointed claw makes for a relatively poor climbing
> crampon on bark, but should work well on hide and integument. One might
> even be able to dig enough of a gash to get some blood (if one wanted
> to move from symbiotic to parasitic feeding)...

I don't know what inspired David's *lightbulb* moment.  But the idea
that microraptorines fed on much larger dinosaur hosts is something
I've mused about before on the DML (e.g.,
http://dml.cmnh.org/2011Jul/msg00220.html).  If we were to find a
_Microraptor_ with a large proto-flea or proto-louse in its stomach,
it would lend strong support to the hypothesis that _Microraptor_
spent time on the hides of larger animals, because the modern insects
are obligate parasites (at least as adults).  Currently, this is a
hypothesis that has no evidence either for or against it.

> The true origin of flight...?

The aerial abilities of microraptorines might have been very different
to those of the ancestors of birds.  There are studies that support
herbivory (or at least omnivory) as being the preferred dietary
behavior of proto-birds.  If so, then the origin of avian flight would
be unrelated to predatory (or parasitic!) behavior.